ExpeRimental – bringing science home

Our second series of science films for parents launches today with the first of 10 exciting and simple chemistry activities to do at home.

  • ExpeRimental graphic

    ExpeRimental

News

Today we are proud to launch the second series of our popular film project ExpeRimental, which kick-started a revolution in science learning by supporting and empowering parents and families to do exciting and easy science activities with young children. Following on from the success of our first 10 films released in summer 2014 which explored physics, this second series encourages families to get stuck into chemistry.

ExpeRimental aims to give viewers the confidence and ideas to explore, question and test some of the fundamentals of science with children aged four to nine. The activities have been specifically designed to appeal to those families who have never considered doing science at home with their children or who do not feel confident in their abilities to do so. All the activities require only common household objects or cheap and easy to buy materials.

You can watch the first film of this second Experimental series Colour Quest and all 10 films from the first series at www.rigb.org/expeRimental. Be the first to watch all subsequent releases by subscribing to the Ri on Youtube now. The remaining nine chemistry films will be released one per week until 17 March 2015 when will release three films in one week in celebration of British Science Week. All the films will be free to watch.

Dr Gail Cardew, Director of Science and Education at the Ri, said: “For 200 years our mission has been to encourage people to think more deeply about the wonders and applications of science and the Royal Institution is often called ‘the home of the science demo’. ExpeRimental embodies this 200 year old mission completely by bringing exciting hands-on science into people’s homes, wherever they may live.

She added: “Supporting families to do science at home is hugely important. 84% of the UK public agree that science is such a big part of our lives that we should all take an interest, but only 41% of adults and 51% of 16-24 year olds feel informed about science [1]. Only a third of parents feel confident in helping with their children’s homework [2].

“With ExpeRimental, our ultimate goal is to help parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, teachers, health workers, foster parents and childcare professionals to spark the natural curiosity of children at an early age through play and to set them on a lifelong course of scientific exploration and investigation.”

Dom McDonald, Outreach Programme Manager at the Royal Society of Chemistry which supports this second ExpeRimental series, said: “We think it’s hugely important to support activities outside school that make chemistry accessible to new audiences. That’s part of the fundamental principles of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s 170 year-old Royal Charter and is just as relevant today. We’re very excited to have this opportunity to support the Ri in such a fun and exciting project.” 

The first ExpeRimental series was a fantastic success with the films being viewed over 108,000 times on the Ri’s YouTube, AOL.on, Daily Motion and Bibblio channels. Families from the UK, France, New Zealand and other countries have carried out activities that were demonstrated in the physics films and we even heard from a science teacher in Uganda who used ExpeRimental inspired activities in her extra-curricular STEM club. There were also unexpected spin-off activities and workshops including a visit to The Royal London Children’s Hospital to carry out the experiments with children and families in the wards.

Our second series is set to be even more exciting. Our presenters come from all over the UK including families in Scotland, Wales, England and we have expanded our filming locations beyond the kitchen table and back garden to film with community groups including a Brownies group in Northern Ireland and an adventure playground team in London.

Physics teacher and filmmaker Alom Shaha who helped developed the project said: “ExpeRimental films encourage viewers to go several steps further than simply carrying out the activity. As well as covering basic scientific facts, ExpeRimental focuses on developing scientific skills like observation, prediction and how to conduct a fair test. Worksheets help parents to prompt their children to look more closely at what’s happening, to ask questions and to discover the answers for themselves. These films are not just about demonstrating cool scientific phenomena and providing an ‘explanation’ but about encouraging children to explore science through play.

“We’re really excited about the second series of ExpeRimental because it features parents from a non-scientific background who saw the last series and wanted to be in their own ExpeRimental film. We’re proud that they feature children doing science, not just ‘experts’ or professional presenters. We hope they show just how easy it is to incorporate science into children’s play activities at home and in other contexts such as adventure playgrounds or after-school clubs. Highlights of this chemistry-focussed series include soap powered racing boats, experiments you can eat, detective work, and chemically propelled rockets.

Alom continued: “We’ve loved seeing photos and videos of people trying out activities from the first series on our ExpeRimental Facebook page and on Twitter, and we hope to see lots more of this sort of viewer engagement in response to the new films.”

Jo Marshall, an ExpeRimental second series presenter from Swansea, said: “The ExpeRimental series is a brilliant idea! It shows how easy it is to do fun yet educational experiments in the home, without the need for special equipment. I would never have thought of baking as a chemistry project so I learnt from it as well as my daughter Sally.”

Josh, aged 6 from London who presents in the second series alongside mum Lisa, said: “It is fun to be a scientist because you get to know things that other people don't know and then you can teach them it!”

The second series of ExpeRimental is supported by the Royal Society of Chemistry. The first series was funded by the Gillespie Trust Fund.

Watch the first film from series 2

How can you help?

We believe the ethos of ExpeRimental has huge potential to reach and benefit families from a diverse range of communities both on and offline. We are keen to explore working with specialists and local organisations to raise awareness of the project in rural and under-served communities, to recruit and train up new contributors, and to create a library of films that meet the needs of families from different cultures, those where English is not the first language and those who have children with varying needs and abilities. We are continually investigating and evaluating different ways to expand ExpeRimental in the future and are open to all suggestions and potential collaborations to help us reach as wide an audience as possible.

Sponsorship and partnership opportunities exist to support further development and expansion of the project.

If you have ideas, feedback, or want to discuss the project, please email Science Learning Manager Olympia Brown at media@ri.ac.uk.

The Royal Society of Chemistry

The Royal Society of Chemistry is the world’s leading chemistry community, advancing excellence in the chemical sciences. With over 50,000 members and a knowledge business that spans the globe, we are the UK’s professional body for chemical scientists; a not-for-profit organisation with 170 years of history and an international vision of the future. We promote, support and celebrate chemistry. We work to shape the future of the chemical sciences – for the benefit of science and humanity.

Follow the Royal Society of Chemistry: www.rsc.org/follow

Winner of The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise, International Trade 2013

Footnotes

  1. Public attitudes towards science, Ipsos MORI 2014
  2. Goodall & Vorhaus, September 2011